Milwaukee in spotlight over same old song
Dec. 15, 2010 Eugene Kane MJS
It shouldn’t surprise most folks in these parts, but the fact of the situation still makes news.
Milwaukee is one of the nation’s most racially segregated metro areas in terms of where people choose to live. A new study of U.S. Census data brings a sobering update about long-standing separation between black and white residents who reside in the same city but in many cases live in drastically different environments.
According to the data analyzed by the Brookings Institution, Milwaukee and its surrounding areas remain high on the list of America’s most segregated large cities, even as other parts of the country have improved in that regard.
Overall, Milwaukee is doing better than it used to, but the latest data is enough to reignite the old debate over how we ever got to be this disconnected in the first place.
Frankly, I don’t know what the fuss is about. If you’re a longtime Milwaukeean, you already know the signs.
Here’s a quick quiz on how to tell if you live in a segregated Milwaukee neighborhood.
Does your neighborhood have more check-cashing stores or payday loan offices than bank branches?
If there are more check-cashing places and payday loan establishments, that suggests a neighborhood not being served by the banking establishment due to lack of employment. In many of these areas, the people not being served are often brown-skinned or black.
Is there an abundance of fast-food franchises in your neighborhood?
There’s nothing wrong with pigging out at a hamburger or taco joint on occasion. But if that’s the only option in your area, it’s a sign good nutrition isn’t a priority. Sadly, many African-American and Hispanic-American communities share the same weaknesses.
How many businesses in your neighborhood have signs written in another language?
Yes, English is the nation’s official language. But if you see a business sign in another language, that suggests an influx of recent immigrants or naturalized citizens who patronize local businesses. After all, they spend U.S. dollars, too.
If you call the police, what is the average response time in your neighborhood?
Actually, if you know the answer, that’s already a telling sign about the area where you live. In Milwaukee, complaints about slow police response time to emergency calls are most often heard in areas heavily populated by minorities.
Can you get a pizza delivered to your door?
In some parts of the inner city where restaurants refuse to offer delivery service due to a high crime rate, many residents have no idea you can order a pizza that way in some places.
When you visit the barbershop, beauty shop, auto mechanic or other businesses, is the radio turned to right wing talk radio, black talk radio, popular music or NPR?
Other than Sunday morning church services, the AM/FM radio dial is perhaps the most segregated spot in American culture.
Do your neighbors complain when kids of another race show up for trick-or-treating during Halloween?
Frankly, if that’s even a concern, your block has a lot more problems than just giving out extra candy.
It’s not part of the quiz but in many ways this final question speaks to the heart of the matter.
Does your neighbor’s race make a difference to you?
To get to the root of this issue, each person has to answer that one for himself.
Contact Eugene Kane at (414) 223-5521 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Raising Kane blog at jsonline.com/blogs/raisingkane.